WEC Critical Difference Grant Makes a Real Impact on Students’ Lives

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We could all use a little help sometimes.

The Women’s Education Center at the University of Michigan-Flint uses the Critical Difference Grant to help at risk students stay in school by solving small problems that could otherwise have a huge impact. Their intervention often helps deter students from dropping out of school.

On the University of Michigan-Flint’s GIVING BLUEDAY, Tuesday, December 2nd, the WEC is joining with the Women’s & Gender Studies program to ask donors to give to the Critical Difference Fund so they can continue to help those in need at UM-Flint.

To give, visit: www.giving.umich.edu/give/flint-critical

Following are some testimonies to the true impact of the Critical Difference Grant:

Testimony 1: My rent had just increased by $150. I had just used all of the remainder of my previous paychecks to pay my tuition. I had nothing left over to pay for my living expenses. I had no money left to pay to keep a roof over my head, nor did I have money to put food on my table. I also had no way of safely getting around to find a new job because of the same health complications that had caused me to lose my previous job. I needed a car. I was heading toward homelessness. I needed the assistance from the Critical Difference Grant to hold me over until I could get my next check. Because of that assistance, I could pay my rent and it held me over until my next check. I got exactly what I needed from the Critical Difference Grant. I am sincerely grateful.

Testimony 2: I am a senior here at the University of Michigan-Flint. I have recently been experiencing some hardships within my life and I didn’t know who to turn to for help. I usually keep things to myself and try to get through them. Walking through the French Hall one day I spotted a poster for the Critical Difference Grant. I decided to call and ask more questions about it and I went to apply for it. I can honestly say this grant was very crucial for me because I didn’t have any money for anything at the time and it provided a way for me to do so many things that I needed to do. I believe this grant is important because everyone needs help sometimes and even the littlest thing can save a life. I had driven to school on an empty tank of gas just so that I wouldn’t miss class. I was going to just pray that I made it back home. This grant allowed to put gas in my car to last me for the next two weeks. I was able to purchase the rest of my books and put food in my house to feed my two children. This grant is important because it helps people out in their time of need. I am extremely grateful for this grant and I hope it continues to be a blessing to others as it was to me.

Testimony 3: Coming from a background were ones most immediate concern is basic survival of course comes with its own unique kind of stress. Being a low income African American female that ended up divorced and raising my children alone in a high crime community only complicated matters. When basic survival and safety is your primary concern, the mere thought of contemplating higher education seems to be a luxurious dream you have no right having. Without the Critical Difference Grant, when an unexpected event happened in my life, I found myself accepting that I had no choice but to give up the fairy tale of college only to seek out further employment to make sure that my children and I would have an immediate safe place to sleep. That was until the Women’s Educational Center told me that there may be a way for them to help me. Truthfully, I wasn’t even looking for help, I was just looking for someone to talk to, someone to listen to me and hear my story.  There are so many different individuals each with their own stories, but women are usually carrying someone such as a child or family member during their survival journey. Making the journey alone without help is close to impossible and this is why I feel that funds that are available such as the Critical Difference Grant allows people not only to feel as if they have the right to dream but to actually be able to pursue and continue with them despite any stumbling blocks they may encounter along the way. With the help of the Women’s Educational Center and the Critical Difference Grant I was able to stay in college.

Testimony 4: Due to the help I have received in the past from the Women’s Educational Center I was able to obtain a B.A degree from the University of Michigan-Flint, I now live in a safer environment in the college district, I presently have a full time employment position, and I am now also a graduate student in the Health Education program here at the University of Michigan-Flint. I believe that the small grant was well worth it. I have confidence that my success has not only broadened my life opportunities but has increased the odds of my children’s future success. The Critical Difference Grant was a sort of “pebble in the pond,” a positive investment that I feel will span generations putting a greater gap between my present and future progeny and poverty.

Testimony 5: The Critical difference Grant allowed me to pay my utility bill and also make some needed repairs to my vehicle. Without it I probably would have been dealing with having no power or resources and I am a single mother. I cannot do homework with no lights on! Also, my broken car and shut off notice both would have directly impacted my ability to perform and make it to class.  As a student it was wonderful to see that the Women’s Educational Center is aware that there is such a need in the student body. I know many people that are working, single parents attempting to do an internship and finish a degree and they just are barely surviving.  The Critical Difference Grant saved me from a hardship that otherwise could have been much worse.

Testimony 6: In a time where I wanted to drop out of school and just give up on everything the Critical Difference Grant program literally saved my life. My mother had been critically ill in the hospital in Ann Arbor for months. My son was acting out in school. I was only working nine hours a week or less because of Federal Work Study policies, my bills were all behind, my car was broken down, my children were stressing and so was I. I am the strong person in my family. I did not want everyone to know that I was literally losing it. My grades were all below passing, I could not concentrate or focus on anything for that matter. I was completely in a place that I thought there was no hope for me.  I went to the Women’s Educational Center to seek Christmas help for my children because I knew I would not be able to give them anything, not even their basic needs. My immediate concern was that I did not have appropriate transportation to even make things like coming to my classes or my work study job happen. After filling out the application, the center was able to get the funds to me the same day. I was able to get the repairs needed to my car and put gas in it too. This helped me tremendously because it allowed me to have transportation to seek other opportunities. The Critical Difference Grant also helped me to partially fix other parts of my situation as well. I think this grant is important because there is not another place on campus with anything as readily available for students who are going through rough and unexpected hard times. The grant gives students an opportunity to remove barriers and focus more on their education. Combining the Women’s Educational Center and the Critical Difference Grant as a whole, I would have to say that it was one of the best things that happened to me during my time as a student on this campus. I could never thank nor repay the center for the blessing that is has been in my life.

Testimony 7: The critical difference grant that was awarded to me through the Women’s Educational Center was a blessing. As a non-traditional student returning to finish my degree, I had exhausted my Pell grant allocation. All my savings were also exhausted. I wasn’t awarded work-study, so the only other alternative was to find an off campus job to substitute any lack of additional financial aid needed to cover all of my expenses. I couldn’t find an off campus job because there are so few jobs available that would also give me the flexibility I need to take care of my family as a single mom and go to school so I can make a better life for my children. After searching for a long time I found something, and the grant assisted me in paying rent for a month, before I was able to start employment. I truly appreciate any donors that would be considering and/or continuing to donate to this grant funded program, because it can make a difference in a mother’s life. One would be surprised at how little can both assist and uplift someone or break their spirit. This grant assists in financial support, but the emotional support from the Women’s Educational Center is also phenomenal.